UPDATED 5:20 p.m. Tuesday
Water and Fire Restrictions Are Imposed as Drought Bears Down
by Watch Staff
Jun 12, 2012 | 3498 views | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WATER CONSERVATION IN EFFECT - According to Telluride Ski and Golf, the company has drastically cut back its water usage on the golf course this summer, in line with water restrictions imposed by the Town of Mountain Village. Residents are now limited to 70 percent of normal water consumption for landscaping.  (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
WATER CONSERVATION IN EFFECT - According to Telluride Ski and Golf, the company has drastically cut back its water usage on the golf course this summer, in line with water restrictions imposed by the Town of Mountain Village. Residents are now limited to 70 percent of normal water consumption for landscaping. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
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TRI-COUNTY REGION – Phase 1 fire restrictions took effect in unincorporated areas of San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties Monday, June 11, due to excessively dry, hot and windy conditions.

And on Tuesday, June 12, the Town of Telluride, which relies on in-stream flows for its municipal water supply, imposed water restrictions. Mountain Village announced similar water restrictions on May 31, after announcing fire restrictions last week.

“Earlier than usual dry conditions across western Colorado have prompted federal officials to also consider imposing fire restrictions on Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service public lands in San Miguel and other Western Slope counties,” should conditions worsen, noted San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.

Similarly, wrote Telluride Town Manager Greg Clifton in an administrative order announcing the conservation measures, “many tributary water sources which supply our municipal consumption are experiencing rapidly declining volumes and flows.”

Phase 1 is the least strict of the three phases of fire restrictions, with Phase 2 calling for a total fire ban on fires of all types, including campfires, and Phase 3 requiring the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service shut off access to all public lands, said Ouray County Sheriff Junior Mattivi.

“There is no moisture anywhere around here, and humidity is really low,” Mattivi told the Watch.

“The fire probability is high on the Uncompahgre Plateau and extreme in the Uncompahgre Valley,” according to Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap.

Although open burning and fireworks are forbidden in unincorporated areas until the restrictions are lifted, Ouray County will allow fireworks to be set off on July 4 by fire department volunteers, unless conditions worsen. Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds with approved fire rings.

Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose, Telluride, Norwood and Olathe are not included in the Phase 1 restrictions, although fire restrictions were enacted in Nucla and Naturita earlier this month.

Although fireworks displays have not yet been cancelled in the towns of Telluride and Ouray, officials expect Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to call for a ban on July 4 fireworks throughout the state, sometime this month.

In unincorporated areas, the following acts are prohibited:

• Open burning, the use of fireworks, open charcoal or wood fires, the burning of trash or debris, or the burning of ditches;

• Building, maintaining, attending or using a campfire except in designated signed campgrounds or developed recreation sites with provided fire grates.

• Smoking unless in an enclosed vehicle, trailer, building or tent, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

• Using an explosive (which includes private use of fireworks).

• Operating a chainsaw without an approved spark arrester and without a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than eight ounces capacity by weight, and one size 0 or larger pointed shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches. The extinguisher shall be with the power saw operator.

• Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame except in an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials at least 10 feet on all sides from the equipment.

Exemptions:

• Fires in manufactured, permanent fire grates or grills within developed recreation sites are permitted.

• Cooking stoves and other appliances fueled by liquid petroleum or bottled fuel that are equipped with a valve which allows the operator to turn the flame on and off are permitted.

Please note, although not defined in the Stage I Fire Restrictions, the possession and use of all fireworks and other incendiary devices are banned on all public lands year round. Also, OHVs and chainsaws are required to have a functioning and properly installed spark arresting device at all times.

For preparation suggestions, visit www.ready.gov; for current statewide fire restriction information visit www.coemergency.com/p/fireban-info.html;

for local information, visit www.co.montrose.co.us, www.co.sanmiguel.co.us and www.co.ouray.co.us.

Water use restrictions in Telluride and Mountain Village include prohibitions on washing sidewalks, driveways, parking area, or patios; filling or refilling swimming pools, hot tubs or landscape water features; and the installation of new public or private landscaping.

Irrigation is also restricted.